Putrajaya urged to place all SME funds under one ministry

Only a fraction of medium-sized SMEs in Malaysia are developed enough to be able to adopt IR 4.0, says SME Association of Malaysia president Michael Kang.

PETALING JAYA: The government has been urged to consolidate all funds allocated for small and medium enterprises (SME) under one ministry in order to help them adapt to the Industrial Revolution (IR) 4.0.

This would enable Putrajaya to focus on nurturing the different sectors and equipping them for IR 4.0, said SME Association of Malaysia president Michael Kang.

He told FMT Putrajaya’s goal of increasing SMEs’ GDP contribution to 50% by 2030 would be difficult to achieve without concentrating the funds in one place.

The funds are currently spread out between the ministries of entrepreneur development, international trade and industry, domestic trade, rural development, human resources and agriculture.

According to Kang, only 2.3% of SMEs in Malaysia are medium-sized while 20% are small-sized and 76% are micro-sized.

He said only some medium-sized SMEs are currently developed enough to be able to adopt IR 4.0. “The small and micro-sized SMEs are definitely not ready for IR 4.0.”

He urged the entrepreneur development ministry to help small and micro-sized SMEs in digitising their work places and training their employees to be prepared for IR 4.0. Such help is especially needed by those companies that are not contributing to the Human Resources Development Fund, he added.

Michael Kang.

Jensen Ooi, the research manager for IDC Asia Pacific, told FMT SMEs should embrace the Future of Work (FOW) framework in order to attract talent and prepare themselves for IR 4.0.

He said FOW implies more than just the use of advanced technology.

He spoke of workspace, work culture and workforce as key factors in the framework.

“A company could have all sorts of really cool gadgets and technology in its workspace, but if it doesn’t have the right culture where this new generation of workforce can fit in, then what’s the point?” he said. “These guys will not want to stick around.”

By jelling the three factors, he said, SMEs would be able to attract and retain talent and build themselves up to be worthy of IR 4.0.

“In the short run, these things can be expensive,” he said. “But in the long run, if they set out their plans correctly, the companies will see returns from their investments.”